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Principle #4: “Why Worldviews Commit Suicide”

Dr. Nancy Pearcey begins the chapter by suggesting that there are two important principles in testing a philosophy or worldview: Does it fit the facts? And is it logically consistent?[1] These questions align with the principle given in the previous chapter: Does [the Idol] Contradict What We Know About the World? Staying on the notion of contradictions, Pearcey shifts our attention to self-referential absurdities, or what she calls worldview suicide.

Principle #4: Test the Idol: Does It Contradict Itself? “The key to identifying where a worldview commits suicide is to uncover its particular form of reductionism,”[2] explains Pearcey. For example, logical positivists claimed that statements are only meaningful if they can be empirically tested. But can the logical positivist’s claim be empirically tested? No, therefore it commits suicide. Karl Marx once said that truth claims are simply rationalizations motivated by economic interest. But that means that Marx’s own theory is motivated by economic interest, thus, undercutting itself. B.F. Skinner believed that humans are nothing but stimulus-response mechanisms, reacting to external stimuli due to operant conditioning. Following his line of reasoning, however, Skinner’s own theory must be a product of operant conditioning and, therefore, is incapable of being true. Pearcey writes, “[O]nce a theory makes the claim that our ideas are not the product of rational thought, that claim must be applied to all ideas—including the theory itself.”[3]

Ironically, worldviews that deny God must assume the Christian worldview in order to deny it. That is, the Christian worldview trades on the existence of an intelligent Creator whose rationality is the source of not only the order that we find in the universe but also our ability to discover it in the first place (using our rational minds). Pearcey suggests pointing out the inherent contradiction and explaining how Christianity “offers a great respect for creation than any of competing worldview.”[4] She concludes the chapter by providing thorough analyses as well as substantive responses to materialism, empiricism, rationalism, and postmodernism.

*Dr. Nancy Pearcey is a professor of Christian Worldview and Apologetics at Houston Baptist University, a fellow at the Discovery Institute, and editor of The Pearcey Report. Please do yourself a favor and buy her excellent book here!

Check back next week for Principle #5: Free-Loading Atheists

[1] Nancy Pearcey, Finding Truth: 5 Principles for Unmasking Atheism, Secularism, and Other God Substitutes (Colorado Springs: David Cook, 2015), 181.

[2] Ibid, 184.

[3] Ibid, 187.

[4] Ibid, 212.

1 COMMENT

  1. Ironically, worldviews that deny God must assume the Christian worldview in order to deny it. That is, the Christian worldview trades on the existence of an intelligent Creator whose rationality is the source of not only the order that we find in the universe but also our ability to discover it in the first place

    I’m not sure I understand this claim.

    Both Christians and atheists tend to agree that the cosmos is rational and intelligible. Some Christians assert that these features are due to God, in some way, while atheists (obviously) do not. In what way are “worldviews that deny God [assuming] the Christian worldview in order to deny it?” The idea that the cosmos is rational is not Christian in origin. In fact, Thales argued that the cosmos was rational as an explicit claim against divine intervention more than 600 years before there were any Christians. What is it that you claim we are borrowing from Christianity?

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